Step 1: Note your net income. The first step in creating a budget is to identify the amount of money you have coming in. Keep in mind, however, that it's easy to overestimate what you can afford if you think of your total salary as what you have to spend. Remember to subtract your deductions for Social Security, taxes, 401(k) and flexible spending account allocations when creating a budget worksheet. Your final take_home pay is called net income, and that is the number you should use when creating a budget.Tip: If you have a hobby or a talent, you may be able to find a way to supplement your income. Having an extra source of income can also be helpful if you ever lose your job.
You might spend more on "wants" than you think. A threadbare minimum of warm clothing is a need. Anything beyond that, such as shopping for clothes at the mall rather than at a discount outlet, qualifies as a want. Yes, the rules are tricky, but if you think about it, they make sense.